Car Detailer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a car detailer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, the job description and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

Car detailers work in auto dealerships, detailing shops and car wash establishments providing deep cleaning of the interior and exterior of cars. This position usually only requires a high school diploma or a GED. Those entering this field should have technical, functional and communications skills.

Essential Information

Car detailers are responsible for making an automobile look neat and clean both inside and out. Using a variety of cleaning equipment and products, these professionals have an eye for cleanliness and inspection. Car detailers work for automobile detail shops and automobile retailers who sell new and used vehicles. A minimum of a high school diploma is necessary for this position, but some students may opt to enroll in postsecondary programs in automotive service technology.

Required Education Variable; a high school diploma and training OR completion of a postsecondary automotive service technology program*
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% (for Automotive Service Technicians & Mechanics)*
Median Annual Salary (2016) $31,485 (for Automobile Detailers)**

Sources: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Job Description

A career as a car detailer is often an entry-level position at a car wash, car dealership or specialized detail car shop. At minimum, their job is to wash the exterior and interior of a vehicle according to the customer's wishes. These tasks may involve a simple shampoo, vacuum or more specific work like cleaning the trunk, ashtray or engine. Detailers usually work under supervision and are expected to work long hours with frequent standing and moving. They may be exposed to extreme heat or cold and usually work weekends and holidays.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that automotive service technicians and mechanics were estimated to see a 5% increase in jobs across the 2014 and 2024 decade. Automobile detailers earned median annual incomes of $31,485 as of January 2016, according to PayScale.com.

Job Duties

According to Careerinfonet.org , car detailers use their manual dexterity and bodily coordination to perform an array of tasks. They wash the exterior of vehicles using various cleaning solutions, but they may also wax and buff vehicles using cloths and buffing machines. Inside of the car, they typically vacuum to remove dirt and debris, clean upholstery and surfaces, use air compressors and cloths to dry surfaces and apply preservation chemicals to surfaces for protection against spots and stains. Car detailers may use different kinds of dyes, paints and waxes to protect the leather or fabric of vehicles. Some detailing jobs involve cleaning and removing any grease on engines or engine compartments.

It was also noted at Careerinfonet.org that detailers use various hoses and pumps to wash vehicles, rinse and dry mats and polish wheels. Additional duties may include managing and maintaining the appropriate level of supplies. Car detailers might be asked to organize work records, files and reports as well.


O*NET OnLine noted that car detailers must be able to understand formulas in order to mix cleaning solutions, paints and other chemicals (www.onetonline.org). The ability to operate cleaning equipment is essential, so car detailers must know how to efficiently operate hand tools or power tools and follow the safety polices set by their employer.

According to information from the BLS, automotive service technicians should possess a minimum of a high school diploma. Employers prefer candidates with proficient oral and written communication skills, technical skills and functional skills.

Car detailing is an entry-level position requiring a high school diploma or GED. Programs are available in automobile service technology for those seeking training. The job growth outlook for this position is about as fast as the job market as a whole, and the median annual salary is about $31,000.

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